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Eve Online Beginner’s Guide – Episode 4: The Miner

In Episode 3 of the Eve Online Beginner’s Guide, we examined the 12 core career choices in EVE at a glance, by looking at what each offered in the long term, and how best to prepare yourself for walking that path. This time, we’re taking a step deeper down that rabbit hole – we’re going to spend an entire episode for each career, to help you get the best understanding of what’s required of you, what you’ll get in return, and ultimately, what options you have available as a new capsuleer.

But where to start? That’s the question we’ve been asking internally, and we’ve decided that we’ll tackle this in order of difficulty – meaning, we’re going to start with careers that are easy to get into, and offer the most to a new capsuleer – beginning with the most common (and often, most profitable) career available: The Miner.

Excerpt from Episode 3: Choosing a Focus

The Miner:

PROS: Fast and easy source of ISK, for new and old players alike.

CONS: Slow and uneventful, mining is often a boring career. Bring a book.

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Mining is the backbone of the Eve Online economy, as the ore mined is then refined into the minerals that are used to manufacture the vast majority of ships and fittings in the game. As such, ore and minerals are always in high demand, and any new player looking to make some quick cash can begin mining and banking ISK immediately.

If you’re interested in making mining a career you should begin by training toward the use of mining barges, such as the Retriever and the Hulk, as these will greatly increase the amount of ore you’re able to mine, and training in the use of Drones, either for protection or additional mining yield.

Further advancement in mining includes venturing into LowSec and NullSec space to pursue rarer ores, training to allow better refinement of particular ore varieties, and the use of specific mining crystals that increase mining yield. 



If you’re starting EVE as a new capsuleer, your first experience with mining will likely be during the Industry Agent Tutorial, where you’ll be provided with a small Frigate class ship with bonus to mining, and a Mining Laser module. If you haven’t already, take a look at Episode 2 of our Beginner’s Guide for more information on completing this tutorial.

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Having completed the Industry Agent Tutorial on mining, you’ll now have a solid understanding of how to extract ore from asteroids. Fortunately, these fundamentals don’t change a lot over the course of the Miner career – you’ll get larger ships that can mine and transport more ore, and you’ll likely join larger groups of miners both for protection, and more efficient mining operations. Moving forward, you’ll eventually need to focus on learning what ores are available where, what minerals can be refined from them, and potentially, what they sell for on the market and what they’re used to build.

Choosing Your Ore
There are 16 types of ore in EVE online. They are, in order of availability:

HiSec           LoSec         NullSec
Veldspar       Kernite        Dark Ochre
Scordite        Jaspet        Crokite
Pyroxeres     Hemorphite Spodumain
Plagioclase   Hedbergite  Bistot
Omber          Arkanor
Mercoxit
Each ore has 3 types – one that gives a standard yield, one with a 5% increase, and another with 10%. Veldspar, for example, comes in: Veldspar, Concentrated Veldspar and Dense Veldspar. Other ores will have different names, but will always offer the same 3 tiers for yield increase.

Determining which ore to mine is the first challenge of the miner, and it changes regularly with the fluctuation of market prices, your ships and skills and your own specific needs. It’s something you’ll need to keep a constant eye on in order to maximise your potential ISK yield.

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For example, you may, were you a new player, decide that you’d like to sell the ore you mine to make fast ISK. Refining the ore with no training would only result in a loss of income, so it’d be better to sell the ore directly on the market; though, this poses another challenge: are you willing to transport the ore across the universe to sell if for the best price? Perhaps you’d like to simply post on the market nearby instead – or if you’re in a real hurry, you might even sell it directly, sacrificing some ISK for an immediate return.

For the purpose of this tutorial, let’s assume that you’ve decided to sell your ore immediately. You’re in a frigate with low quality mining lasers and limited cargo capacity, so you need to farm ISK as fast as possible to get your hands on a new ship.

You begin by heading out to a nearby Asteroid Field to see what’s available – you’re in HiSec, so you’re limited to 5 types of ore. Veldspar is the most common ore in the universe, so you start there. Now that you’ve chosen your ore and started mining, it’s time to start working on your strategy.

Mining Strategy
Mining Strategy, as we’re coining it, is the management of Mining Laser cycles, ore yield, cargo capacity and transport. It changes regularly, depending on which ship you’re using to mine, which ship you’re using to transport the ore back home, which ore type you’re mining, what you’re doing with your ore, which modules you have fitted, how many people you’re mining with and how many pirates are looking to mess with you.

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As a new player your options are vastly limited in this regard, but there’s still some strategy to work out. For the purposes of this tutorial, let’s get back to our new Veldspar Miner. First, you need to establish how much ore you’re able to mine in a single cycle using one laser, then, how much cargo capacity your ship can hold (Tip: Use Cargo Expanders to increase this). This will help you determine how many cycles you can complete before needing to return home to unload.

And that’s the second core element to mining strategy: transport. If you’re alone in a small mining frigate, your options are again limited to either returning the load at full capacity, or shooting your ore into a jet can repeatedly and returning with an industrial vessel later to collect it; however, this method makes it excruciatingly easy for people to ‘Can Flip’ you, so it’s not recommended. More on can flipping later.

If you’ve got a friend who’s willing to adopt the transporter role you can significantly increase your mining return by cutting out the need to return and dock, effectively giving you a uninterrupted mining stream; another popular method for achieving this is to open a second account, thereby giving you the ability to serve both roles simultaneously. 

As your skills increase and your ships advance and your fleet grows and you delve deeper into the universe, your mining strategy should adjust accordingly. All you really need to do is ensure that you’re always mining from an asteroid with more ore than you can extract in a single cycle, and that your ship’s cargo hold can hold enough to allow you to jettison it without cutting off your extraction. If either of these two values fail, you’ll lose the ore – and you won’t be happy about it.

Ships and Skills
Having developed a simple mining strategy and begun generating a comfortable income from it, it’s time to look at increasing your yield. Joining a mining fleet is a sure-fire way to achieve this goal quickly and painlessly; though, if you prefer to mine alone or with your own close group of friends, it’s best to look into advancing your skills and picking up a Mining Barge.

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It’s often recommended that prior to getting a Mining Barge you should begin training toward the use of a Cruiser, as they can equip more mining lasers and often have a larger cargo hold – some players also recommend the use of Battleships for mining over Mining Barges; however, we’ve found that barges are not only less complicated to fit and operate, but ultimately, by applying Strip Miners, Mining Crystals and Mining Laser Upgrades provide a substantially better mining experience and yield. 

In this guide, we’ll be recommending the use of Mining Barges and their Tech 2 equivalent, Exhumers, which both come in 3 variants: 

Mining Barges:
  • Procurer
  • Retriever – Mining Barge III, Astrogeology III, Industry V, Science IV, Mining IV
  • Covetor

Exhumers:
  • Skiff
  • Mackinaw
  • Hulk – Exhumers III, Astrogeology V, Spaceship Command IV

Having tested them all, we recommend that you begin with the Retriever. Though this will take some additional time over heading directly for the Procurer, it’s cheap and highly effective, offering the ability to equip Strip Miners, and should serve you well until you’re ready to advance into the realm of Exhumers.

Again, having tested the water ourselves and observed the current mining tends in New Eden, we recommend advancing from the Retriever directly to the Hulk – though it should be noted that the Hulk is considerably more expensive than the Retriever, averaging at 300m ISK as compared to 10m.

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CCP have recently announced several upcoming changes to the way Mining Barges operate, stating that future versions of Mining Barges and Exhumers should serve more specific roles than they do currently, alongside this badboy above: the Mining Frigate.

Mining Fittings
Unlike other careers in Eve Online, we’ve found that fitting Mining Barges and Exhumers to be a much less complicated (and by extension, creative) process than, say, fitting a Battleship or Logistics ship. This is largely due to the limited use of these ships – which is to say, these ships are used for mining and mining alone – and as such, when mining in HiSec, can be fitted without difficulty.

At the time of writing, we recommend the following fittings:

RETRIEVER

Strip Miner I x2
Survey Scanner 
Cargo Expander II x2

The Strip Miner I modules here replace the need for typical Mining Lasers, and can only be used on Barges and Exhumers. They provide a higher yield at the cost of cycle speed; however, in almost all scenarios, will give you more ore for your time, and less hassle retrieving it.

The Survey Scanner, or equivalent variant module, is used to determine how much ore is remaining in an asteroid. Though not hugely useful in ‘AFK Mining’, this can be used to increase efficiency significantly by manually adjusting your laser cycles to match the ore remaining. This can be replaced with a Shield Module for extra defence where needed.

The Tech II Cargo Expanders can be used to increase your cargo hold capacity, thereby allowing you to hold more ore – and by extension, mine more before needed to jettison. These can be replaced with Mining Laser Upgrade modules to increase yield instead, assuming you have made alternate arrangements for cargo transportation and are actively managing your cycles.

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HULK

Modulated Strip Miner II x3
Survey Scanner 
Shield Modules II x3
Mining Laser Upgrade II x2

The Modulated Strip Miner II modules are effectively the Tech 2 variant of the Strip Miner; they offer a higher yield, and can be equipped with Mining Crystals that increase the yield of a specific ore drastically. The alternative here is the Modulated Deep Core Strip Miner II, which is used when mining the rare, and often dangerous ore, Mercoxit.

The Shield Modules II here represents the use of any shield modules you like; obviously, these will be used to keep you alive when you’re being attacked – they aren’t particularly useful in HiSec, though it’s often better to be safe than sorry in these circumstances, and as such, are a recommended fit on the 300m ISK Hulk.

As with the Retriever, the Mining Laser Upgrade II modules are used to increase your mining yield. These can be swapped out with Cargo Expander II modules as required.

Note: All Mining Barges and Exhumers can be fitted with drones – generally, Scout Drones for defence or Mining Drones for additional yield.

The Many Dangers of Mining
So far as we’ve discussed in this guide, the life of an Eve Miner appears a fairly risk-free, low stress one – and yet, there are dangers lurking. Even in HiSec systems, mining in New Eden can be dangerous and acquainting yourself with these dangers is the first step in avoiding them.

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Rats
NPC Pirates, or ‘Rats’ as they’re more commonly known, are a regular part of a miner’s life in New Eden. They will appear in every belt in 0.8 security systems and lower, almost always, usually forcing you to equip Scout Drones over Mining Drones. Their difficulty is determined by the security rating of the system in which they appear; as such, if you’re light on defence, opt for higher security systems to avoid this threat.

Note: Special ‘Rare Spawn’ Rats appear occasionally while mining, and can be identified by their name. These Rats drop significantly better quality loot, and are a great way to increase your income while mining. Be on the lookout.

Can Flipping
Can Flipping refers to a common tactic pirate’s use to harass mining players by using their jetcan to gain kill rights in HiSec space. This works by stealing the ore in a miner’s jetcan and replacing it with some of their own; when said unsuspecting miner removes said ore, he has effectively ‘stolen’ it from the pirate, initiating kill rights and impending doom.

It’s a common tactic because it works, right up until the moment when you figure out what’s going on, and stop taking the ore. Our advice: if a pirate takes your ore and replaces it with his own, move to another belt. Forget the ore, that’s not yours anymore unless you can kill the pirate, and unless you’re mining in a Battleship, that’s not likely.

Pirate Gangs
Though rare in HiSec, Pirate Gangs are groups of players that scour the asteroid belts of new Eden in search of undefended Mining Fleets. It’s very unlikely that to find them in 0.6 systems and higher; however, as a result of the longer response time for CONCORD in 0.5 space (that is still considered HiSec), it’s very possible for the gangs to eliminate you and/or your fleet before CONCORD can react, so we advise you to avoid 0.5 systems unless absolutely necessary. Ye’ve been warned.

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Hulkageddon
Spawned from the depths of the Goonswarm – the largely feared EVE corporation led by Capsuleer, The Mittani – Hulkageddon refers to that time of year when the Goons offer bounty for every Hulk killed during the specified time period. As a miner, this means fearing for your life and cargo at a significantly increased rate. There are always people looking to kill you – that’s just EVE – though during Hulkageddon, this fear is intensified a hundred fold. Want our advice? When Hulkageddon’s about, take up knitting, and leave your Hulk at home.

Stepping Up a Notch
If you’ve made it this far into our guide, then you’re no longer a Beginner. You’ve likely got a Hulk now, properly fitted, and have a solid understanding in Eve Online. But this is only the beginning. You’ve made a lot of progress, but, as always, you’re only just getting started. 

There are a lot of options available now; some of you may veer toward the path of the Manufacturer, which we’ll cover in detail in an upcoming episode, or you may continue deeper into the mining abyss in search of rarer ores in lower security space.

If you’re looking to expand your career as a Miner, you should definitely begin by assembling a fleet – a group of other players – for increased mining yield and efficiency, transport, bonuses and protection.

The Orca, for example, is a Capital Ship that can carry close to 150,000m3 of ore in a single run, alongside offering incredible bonuses to mining yield, cycle speed and range to all members in a fleet. In fact, the Orca comes equipped with its own Corporation Hanger, allowing other players to store and access fittings and ships on the fly, and too, fitting services that will literally allow other players to customise their modules in space.

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There are Implants, too, that can be installed into your capsuleer to increase mining efficiency in a number of ways; and those players willing to increase their risk can move deeper into LoSec and NullSec space can begin Gas Mining, and even Mercoxit Mining – the rarest, and most dangerous mining operation in New Eden. But that’s a story for another day.

Thanks for reading, and please, if you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comments section below, or ping NerA Maar, Tobias Masters or Pleasure Winters in-game. 

We’re also accepting new players into our Mining Fleet: iQU Enterprise. Wink. Wink.